NEW CASTLE —
After his playing days were through, Aven spent his time working at the family business he created in 1981, Aven Fire Systems in New Castle.
Although he retired his bat and his football pads for more conventional golf clubs, family members saw glimmers of a man who left it all on the field.
“His favorite way to start a sentence was, ‘I played football, basketball and baseball my whole life, and everything I learned in life applied to what I learned at those sports,’ ” his daughter April Aven said. “We always used to kind of laugh. We’d be out and he’d start a sentence that way and we’d be like, ‘oh no, not again.’ ”
April, 32, is one of Anthony's two children, with his son Anthony Jr., 38.
His family credits his willingness to take a chance on the playing field as a catalyst for taking chances in the business world.
“He played hard and when he was not playing ball, he had a lot of fun,” Ken Aven said. “What he did later on in life was the same way — donating stuff and helping people out. Always, if you needed help, he was there.”
Aven was a shy, humble man, never willing to take credit for donations he gave or people he helped out — a fact that delayed his induction into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.
“He’s been offered the induction plenty of times before this and refused it,” April Aven said. “Several of the times was because he felt other people who were on his team with him deserved it before he did.
“He didn’t like public speaking. I think for him to go out and stand in front of that group of people was a little intimidating.”
Anthony Aven died on Feb. 9, 2012, at the age of 62. After developing throat cancer, he experienced post-surgery complications after a lesion was removed from his tongue.
“When he died, I got the phone call at six in the morning,” Humphrey said. “That was one of the rougher days for me, because he was so young. Life goes on, but I miss him.”
“I always considered him one of my, if not my best friend,” Joseph added. “We did a lot together — Anthony, Richard Humphrey and myself. We were very close, but Anthony was special to all of us. Everybody took to him. He is missed dearly.”
Even after his death, his family is still seeing the impact Anthony had on the New Castle community.
“There was so many people and lives that he touched by giving them money when they were down and out or in need, that I never knew,” his wife Kim Aven said. “I’ve gotten letters and letters from people who wrote to tell me these things now. It was really nice that they did that.”